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RE: Redwood Tree at 240 University Drive

From: Bellumori, Steve <SBellumori_at_(domain_name_was_removed)>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2010 17:55:21 -0700

Dear Council Members,  

I am unable to attend the Council meeting this evening due to a family matter.
Please then excuse this late email to you but thought it worthwhile just to express some thoughts relative to the issue regarding the giant Sequoia at 240 University and in part, the on going issue with trees in Menlo Park.  

The tree at 240 University is, in a word, "magnificent." It also, unfortunately, was miss planted many years ago and is now not doing justice to this property. It is unfortunate but accurate.  

As a real estate broker for 30 years and having sold many hundreds of homes in our City, I know first hand that the issue in front of you relative to the tree on University Avenue is not limited to this tree. Trees make up one of our most beautiful assets and provide an aspect to our city which I can only describe as a living canopy. The value then of trees not only to our city but to the environment is not even in question.  

Unfortunately, however, throughout our City are trees that many years ago were miss-sized to their lots or miss planted for their locations. Homeowners of the 1950's, for instance, may not have understood the size or possible damage from a giant redwood miss planted on the lot or a Monterey Pine prone to disease or the possible danger of a shallow rooted Eucalyptus toppling over in storms. They are all fairly fast growing trees of great magnitude. That they have grown to giant proportions does not correct the error of the miss planting many years prior.  

That to me is what seemed very clear when I viewed the tree at 240 University. Even without new construction proposed on that lot, the damage it apparently is doing and will continue to do to the existing structure seems more than evident. I am sure the small seedling some 70+ years ago did not give that picture to the owners of the home at the time. This issue then -- not just relative to 240 University Avenue -- is where I believe the Council needs to make the unfortunate, but necessary, decisions to allow tree(s) to be removed and others that are more appropriately sized and located planted in their place. If the owner of the 240 University Avenue lot has already made attempts to work around that tree, yet the conformity to the neighborhood would not be consistent by having to place a new home too far back on the lot, it would seem again obvious that everyone recognizes that the tree should never have been located where it is on the lot.  

There must be balance, then, between our needs as a community to protect trees when protecting them is appropriate and making rational decisions to remove trees when they no longer are a benefit to that property, or worse, cause damage to the residence and its systems.  

On a far different note, I recently went into the Building Department on the exact opposite issue of the one before you. New construction on a lot and the excess new plantings on the lot -- in part to presumably create a quick screening effect without regard for neighbors -- caused my own concern for blocking sunlight to a home we own next door. I was astounded to learn that the City did not require a landscape approval plan relative to day light plane interference potentially caused by excess landscaping. While we maintain such requirements relative to the house to be built and to as best as possible make sure that the new construction does not interfere with someone else's sunlight, there was not a requirement relative to the landscaping and the "instant screening" effect. Still, today, then we are allowing the miss sized and miss placed plantings of giant redwoods or other miss sized trees along property lines or in interference with a neighbors sunlight. Sunlight more than so many factors will be, to me, one of the most critical factors of our future housing as the technology develops. This may be a side issue to your discussion this evening, but is as important to our future enjoyment of our properties as is protecting the trees that should be protected is today.  

My thought then to the council is that, unfortunately, the lovely tree at 240 University Avenue as nice as it is, is one of the casualties of a mistake many years ago and should be allowed to be removed at this time.  

Thank you for the work of the Council on this and so many other matters affecting our City.    

Sincerely yours,  

Steve Bellumori
Steve Bellumori
International President's Premier
Top 1% Coldwell Banker Worldwide
CA DRE #00494595
Direct Line: 650-752-0826
Fax: 650-323-7128
Website: www.SteveBellumori.com <http://www.stevebellumori.com/>  

Consistently successful results for clients in over 850 home and property transactions.   Received on Wed Oct 27 2010 - 15:43:22 PDT

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